Contemporary Arts Center Cincinnati Charley Harper...

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Charley Harper Cincinnati-based, nationally known, internationally beloved Contemporary Arts Center remembers the life and work of Charley Harper. Charley Harper Best known for the children's book The Golden Book of Biology, Harper was an extraordinarily prolific graphic designer contributing his unique, geometric style to a wide range of publications, including Ford Times, Betty Crocker's Dinner for Two Cookbook and graphics produced by the Audubon Society and the National Park Service. As a master illustrator and designer inspired by Modernism, Harper developed a unique geometric style. A graduate of the Art Academy, Harper's depictions of nature-especially birds-were a major influence for contemporary artists and designers today, including Ryan McGinness and Todd Oldham. Born in West Virginia in 1922, Harper's upbringing on his family farm informed his work to his last days. He left his farm home to study art at the Art Academy of Cincinnati, and there he met his wife, artist Edie Harper. He later taught at the Art Academy while he and Edie raised their son, Brett. In an interview with Todd Oldham for the book Charley Harper: An Illustrated Life, Harper discussed his simplified forms: "I don't think there was much resistance to the way I simplified things. I think everybody understood that. Some people liked it and others didn't care for it. There's some who want to count all the feathers in the wings and then others who never think about counting the feathers, like me." Altman Siegel Gallery// 49 Geary St. Ste 416, San Francisco, CA 94108// 415-576-9300// [email protected]//

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  • Page 1 of 3http://contemporaryartscenter.org/harper

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    Charley HarperCincinnati-based, nationally known, internationally beloved

    Contemporary Arts Center remembers the life and work of Charley Harper.

    » Read the Mayoral Proclamation for December 8: Charley Harper Day» Listen to the Interview with Charley Harper by Todd Oldham on WVXU's Around Cincinnati (MP3)» Charley Harper Image Downloads for Media» What others are saying» Charley Harper Desktop Wallpaper

    Charley Harper

    Best known for the children's book The GoldenBook of Biology, Harper was an extraordinarilyprolific graphic designer contributing his unique,geometric style to a wide range of publications,including Ford Times, Betty Crocker's Dinner forTwo Cookbook and graphics produced by theAudubon Society and the National Park Service.

    As a master illustrator and designer inspired byModernism, Harper developed a unique geometricstyle. A graduate of the Art Academy, Harper'sdepictions of nature-especially birds-were a majorinfluence for contemporary artists and designerstoday, including Ryan McGinness and Todd Oldham.

    Born in West Virginia in 1922, Harper's upbringing on his family farm informed his work to his last days.He left his farm home to study art at the Art Academy of Cincinnati, and there he met his wife, artistEdie Harper. He later taught at the Art Academy while he and Edie raised their son, Brett.

    In an interview with Todd Oldham for the book Charley Harper: An Illustrated Life, Harper discussedhis simplified forms:

    "I don't think there was much resistance to the way Isimplified things. I think everybody understood that. Somepeople liked it and others didn't care for it. There's somewho want to count all the feathers in the wings and thenothers who never think about counting the feathers, likeme."

    Altman Siegel Gallery// 49 Geary St. Ste 416, San Francisco, CA 94108// 415-576-9300// [email protected]//

  • 02/22/2008 03:15 PMContemporary Arts Center Cincinnati :: Charley Harper :: Cincinnati-based, nationally known, internationally beloved

    Page 2 of 3http://contemporaryartscenter.org/harper

    Harper passed away in June, 2007. He saw the first editionof Todd Oldham's loving tribute to his life when Oldhamvisited Harper in early June.

    The Artist

    An astonishingly versatile artist fluent in every technique from brushy abstraction to precise realism,Harper is best known for his unique style combining straight and curved lines and flat areas of carefullyselected colors. It is in this elegant, playful style that Harper has established himself as an innovativewildlife artist.

    Birds are Harper's main subject, but his representations are unconventional. He contrasts his own workwith the famous engravings of naturalist John James Audubon saying, "Audubon counted every featheron each wing; I just count the wings." In their dynamic,arabesque lines, crisp planes of color, and inventive depictionsof motion, Harper's images of birds reflect the artist's awarenessof Cubism, Minimalism, Einsteinian physics and countless otherdevelopments in Modern art and science.

    Harper also simultaneously simplifies and distills the naturalworld, from depictions of Model T Fords in Americanlandscapes, to a mosaic mural of Ohio animals (for Cincinnati'sFederal building), to countless versions of what has become asignature image-the ladybug. He also writes about his naturalsubjects. The ornithological illustrations in the book Birds andWords, for example, are accompanied by short prose poems that zing and soar like the animals theydescribe.

    Harper is a graduate of the Art Academy of Cincinnati, where hemet his wife Edie Harper, whose work also will be featured inGraphic Content in June 2007. Charley and Edie began theirlifelong collaboration in 1947 with a book illustrating their three-month honeymoon driving trip. By mayoral proclamation,December 8 is Charley Harper Day in Cincinnati.

    In memoriam: A community speaks out

    "Charley Harper's impact on the world of art and design echoed through several generations andacross the globe. His minute precision and lovingly rendered creations will continue to inspiregenerations to follow. We have much to say - and much to learn - of his unique gift, his extraordinarytalent, his artistic contribution and his kind and generous spirit. Charley Harper befriended everymember of the staff of the CAC. He inspired us with his humble, cheerful manner and his brilliant,beautiful artwork. The Harper family is beloved to us, and our hearts are broken today."

    Altman Siegel Gallery// 49 Geary St. Ste 416, San Francisco, CA 94108// 415-576-9300// [email protected]//